Safe Use of Opioid Drugs
It is well known that the misuse of pain-relieving opioid drugs can have serious side effects and lead to addiction, or worse. There are other types of pain relievers, both over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription, that can be effective for many types of pain. OTC pain relievers include drugs such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin, naproxen (Aleve), and ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin).
When OTC drugs are not enough, particularly after major oral surgery, your doctor may prescribe a stronger pain reliever such as an opioid drug. Prescription opioid medications include hydrocodone, codeine, oxycodone, and morphine. Opioids are powerful and effective pain relievers but must be used with caution.
How Do I Safely Use Opioid Pain Relievers?
- Follow Your Doctors Instructions. Opioids should only be used as directed. Follow the instructions that come with your prescription carefully.
- Communicate. Tell your doctor about your health history, any other medications you are taking, and do not mix opioids with illegal drugs or alcohol. Right after surgery, you may still feel numb from anesthesia, so it can be difficult to determine your level of pain. Stay in touch with your doctor about any changes that might require a change in your prescription.
- Listen to Your Body. Signs of overmedication can include dizziness, confusion, difficulty walking, and slurred speech. Difficulty staying awake and difficulty or slow breathing can be a sign of an overdose and should be treated as an emergency. Call 911 immediately.
- Don’t Share Your Medication. It can be tempting to offer a prescription pain reliever to a friend or family member, but you do not know their medical history, medications they are taking, or the risk involved. Dispose of any unused medication properly.
Closely following instructions and communicating clearly with your oral surgeon can help ensure a safe and comfortable recovery from oral surgery.
Do you have a question about Oral and Facial Surgery, our practice, or our procedures? You may call us at 301-791-1700 or drop us a note here.
This article is presented for informational purposes only and is not intended to take the place of one-on-one advice from your doctor. Please follow your personal physician’s recommendations for pain management and medical treatment.